Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party in England & Wales (& Cornwall) was one of the panel on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? this week. To the amazement of anyone concerned about the ecological crisis we face, she launched into an impassioned defence of massive urban development and a rejection of those measures that might keep population growth within locally acceptable bounds.
So, what’s the Green Party for? Why does it pretend to be part of the solution when it clearly has the same analysis of the problem as all the other London-based parties? Namely that the damage done by growth is to be cured by yet more growth. It has over recent years courted the red-green vote, by playing up the red, but seemingly at the expense of the green.
All parties are constantly challenged to say what they would do to create more jobs. A really courageous party would challenge the question. We don’t need the maximum number of jobs. We need the optimum number of jobs for the optimum size of population, given the sensible limits that define our region’s place in a sustainable world. The UK has far, far too many jobs for its size, many of them in the wrong places and many of them financially profitable (for others) but socially useless and environmentally harmful. That’s one reason why it’s importing folk at the rate of 250,000 a year net. It also has a failed education and welfare system, because it has 2 million unemployed who should be matched to the jobs available and trained to do them if they lack the skills. Come on, this isn’t rocket science, it’s the basic sustainability that corporate interests prevent us enjoying.
Growth isn’t necessary for economic reasons. It’s necessary only for fiscal reasons, because without it the UK cannot pay the interest on the imaginary debts it’s been fooled by bankers into believing that it owes. The continued refusal to confront this fact is what’s leading to planet-wide disaster as rising debt outstrips the capacity of the real, resource-limited economy.
The future needs green politics. What it obviously doesn’t need is Green politics.